The 2011 Super Bowl held on Sunday, February 6th at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas was played in front of a capacity of over 100,000 people - the largest attendance in Super Bowl history. The Super Bowl broadcast was viewed by more than 100 Million people. The winner of the game takes home the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The trophy is named for a great coach and a great man. Vince Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York. He was head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers (1959–67). He imposed a strenuous regimen and led his team to five NFL championships (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967). He won first two Super Bowls (1967, 1968). His success made him a symbol of single-minded determination to win.
The odds of winning a championship in any professional sport are always long. Maybe that is why we care so much about what makes a winning team. To be sure, we can learn a great deal about character, hard work, grit and determination from the individuals who win championships. But maybe there is even more inspiration inherent in the heroic efforts made in spite of falling short. Consider those individuals who find the courage to continue in a losing effort who bravely battle but ultimately do not win. They are unsung heroes and in many ways can be even more noble.
Vince Lombardi died of Cancer in September 1970. Surely he would be astounded at how big the game has become and would be most honored that the trophy is a constant reminder of what it takes to win. Yet, the trophy that bears his name might also be appropriately be awarded for battling against impossible odds. Lombardi deserves the fame he earned for winning but perhaps it is more notable that he is a role model for those driven to succeed – doing what it takes to win, in spite of never knowing for certain of the outcome.
Lombardi's success is legendary, and he is often associated with the maxim, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." He did not coin that phrase. It is uncertain if he actually ever even said it. However, he did say something that might be more important: "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to is."
I wish there was a trophy for all those people who do what it takes to win but bravely accept the result of the outcome in spite of their best efforts to prevail. You are winners too!